Mario Tama / Getty ImagesAs Women's Day was quickly approaching, the team at Foursided began to toss around ideas about how we could address the issues of women's rights and sexual harassment that have been appearing so often in politics and the media. In our stores, we sell several products promoting the idea of gender equality replacing the patriarchal society we live in today. We invited guest blogger, employee, and new mother Kate Carson-Groner to shed some light on why we sell pro-feminism products. Read on with open ears and an open mind - and men, be ready to check yourself.
Hey there, Gents (and by gents I mean cisgender men). Let’s talk. And by talk I mean, you just read this for a minute and then you can go back to growing a beard or cooking dinner or playing an instrument. Or anything else that you can do. Because you can do literally anything, and the whole world reminds you of this every time you turn on a TV or look at a magazine or surf the web or absorb an advertisement of any kind.
Feminism has been getting a lot of press lately, and rightly so. We women are EVERYWHERE. I even read somewhere that literally no humans could be born without women which blew my lady mind so hard I had to go bake cupcakes while working out on an elliptical. Exactly one woman has been a major-party nominee for President in the history of our country, and she almost* won! We are practically taking over everything. And, considering you are reading a blog from a company in Chicago that does custom framing and sells left-leaning cards and art pieces, you are probably excited about the changes. I bet you call yourself a feminist. I dare say you voted for that major party nominee and were UTTERLY SHOCKED AND HORRIFIED when she didn’t** win. I bet you posted angrily about it on social media. And maybe you even marched. But in doing all this, I’m guessing you experienced a strange new sensation. It wasn’t about you.
If you’re still reading this, CONGRATULATIONS! Because I just said something wasn’t about you and you stuck around. I am so proud. Here’s something that smells of tobacco smoke, old books, pine, and vanilla for you to put in your man cave.
But anyway, back to the land of “not about you.” It has been brought to our attention that some of you may be offended by certain items we stock (Oh crap, it’s already about you again). Specifically, a card that says “Fuck your male gaze.” [https://hoyfc.com/} Yeesh. That is some harsh language to be printed on a piece of paper that you have a choice to buy or not. That must feel very oppressive. Fortunately, “the male gaze” is not just the act of men looking at things, but rather a fairly crucial concept within feminist theory. No one wants to rip your eyes out. Well maybe someone does--I don’t know you personally--but I promise you that we here at Foursided have no general desire to harm you or your ability to see.
The concept of the male gaze is that cisgendered straight men’s perspectives are unfairly overrepresented in media. Specifically, it originated in the context of filmmaking, and said that if a male character viewed a woman in a sexualized context, then the audience viewed her the same way thanks to the male gaze of the character, the usually male director, and the usually male writer. If you’ve been reading the news lately, you may have noticed that unwanted sexualization of women and men is kind of a hot topic right now (I mean it’s a big part of the news cycle, not a novelty t-shirt and chain necklace shop in an early 2000s suburban shopping mall.) The floodgates have opened and the deeply-hidden unwanted sexual advances that have been endured for decades, centuries, and millennia are pouring out into the public with fervor. It’s overwhelming and thrilling and sad. And, for me personally, it has resulted in a general “fuck it” attitude that I can’t seem to shake. So, dear reader, please take comfort in the fact that “Fuck Your Male Gaze” and other such items are simply saying “Dismantle Institutionalized Sexism,” which is a sentiment that you can hopefully agree with.
The irony is not lost on me that I spent an entire blog post trying to rationalize feminism to take care of masculine feelings. This is proof that the male gaze exists, because I am catering to it. I hope that your takeaway can be that just because something isn’t about you, or even FOR you, that doesn’t mean it is insulting to you. I may not buy a card that says “I love my Adam’s apple” because I don’t have one. But that also doesn’t mean that I would be insulted that someone made or stocked or bought that card.
**Like, really. She fucking won. And we’ll never "just get over it."
Author: Kate Carson-Groner